Court grants IHOP worker's request for conditional class certification in employee pay lawsuit

By Charmaine Little | Jan 24, 2019

NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana recently granted a motion for class certification filed by an IHOP employee who filed a lawsuit alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. 

In a Jan. 16 filing, U.S. District Judge Barry W. Ashe certified the class in a suit against Ruby IV LLC, et. al. brought by Tammy Kidwell, who worked as a restaurant manager, hostess, cook and waitress at the defendants' IHOP restaurants. The suit accuses the defendant's IHOPs of not paying her and other employees in the same situation what they are owed.

The suit said IHOP failed to pay her the agreed upon salary of a minimum of $455 a week when she worked as a manager, court filings said. She also claimed she got $12 an hour when she worked more than 40 hours a week and that she wasn’t paid when she worked as a waitress, accusing IHOP of swelling “the amount of tips that (she) was reported to receive” so it would seem like she earned $7.25 an hour to comply with minimum wage, according to court documents.

Kidwell asked the court to certify two classes of workers for the FLSA lawsuit against Ruby IV and related parties. The class would consist of employees who weren't paid overtime for hours worked beyond a 40-hour workweek and servers who weren’t paid $7.25 for working under 40 hours and the minimum $10.88 for hours worked more than 40 hours a week.

The court said Kidwell provided enough evidence to prove there are other co-workers in her position; she submitted payroll records from four other hourly workers and six servers that showed IHOP failed to pay proper overtime and minimum wage earnings; and she also sufficiently proved that the defendants failed to comply with the FLSA from 2010 to 2014 when it didn’t sufficiently pay tipped employees as well as overtime wages for those working hourly.

The court said Kidwell also provided enough proof that more co-workers want to join the class action. 

The court also denied a motion by Kidwell to strike affidavits that Ahmad Elaal and Khalid Sharaf filed to challenge the class certification motion. Kidwell said the affidavits should be removed because Elaal and Sharaf did not work for IHOP during the time in question, but the court disagreed and denied the motion to strike.  

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